Barcode

Ahead Of The Game

Written by: PP on 20/11/2006 18:05:14

Danish hardcore doesn't get much better than Barcode. The list of names involved on their fifth album "Ahead Of The Game" reflects this as well - Tue Madsen mixing, Jacob Bredahl producing and Lou Koller, the singer of Sick Of It All, probably the most influential hardcore act of all time, guesting vocals on one track. The biggest change on "Ahead Of The Game" compared to previous album "Showdown" is that the bands original vocalist Butch is no longer with the band. To replace him, the band has recruited SS Graveyard formerly of Demolition Inc to deliver brute hardcore grunts, and he doesn't fail in performance one bit.

Jacob Bredahl's touch is easily heard on the album. The songs are ear-bruising, shimmering of brute force and aggression much like his Hatesphere work, and this is only fortified by the faded gang shouts as heard on "Emo Nation". "All Out War" sees the band slightly adjust their muscled power-chord obsessed delivery during the chorus, where the guitars tear away while SS Graveyard is heard yelling "Cover it up!". The breakdowns are as brutal as always on hardcore albums, but yet somehow it falls short from being a masterpiece. This is best demonstrated on "Course Of Action", which sees the Sick Of It All frontman Lou Koller intensely trading lines with SS Graveyard throughout the song. Though this is the best track on the album by far, the difference between Koller's and SS Graveyard's range is vast, and if nothing else it highlights why Sick Of It All are playing venues the size of London Forum and Barcode are playing tiny clubs around Denmark. Perhaps this is an exaggeration as Barcode really aren't bad at all, as the maniacally paced "Pussy Galore" demonstrates. They're great at in-your-face hardcore a la Hatebreed, and the pits are likely to be next to lethal at live shows, and they stay true to the traditional NYHC sound. Just listen to "Glassjaw" and tell me a single flaw in the song.

Perhaps the only problem with the album is how all the songs are capable of standing alone fantastically, with some reaching almost epic status (the closing title track for instance). As a whole, though, the record isn't as united as, for instance, Sick Of It All's latest "Death To Tyrants" or even Hatebreed's "Supremacy", and it is unforunate "Ahead Of The Game" falls within a year of these two great records with striking similarity. Regardless, this is only a minor problem and fans of NYHC will fall in love with "Ahead Of The Game" just as they did with the previous releases, however if you weren't a fan before, you're not going to be a fan now, but keep in mind that Barcode is probably the best hardcore band in Denmark, and especially Danes not giving them a go would be almost criminal.

Download: Course Of Action, All Out War, Emo Nation
For the fans of: Sick Of It All, Hatebreed
Listen: Download MP3s @ official website

Release date 20.11.2006
Scarlet Records
Provided by Target ApS

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